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CHRIST A PRECIOUS SAVIOUR.–BY THE EDITOR.
"Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.”—1 PETER, 2: 7.
The great end and business of the Scriptures are, to reveal Christ. They set Him forth in his person-in his mission--in his office of work-in his life, sufferings, and death-in his humiliation and in bis glory, with amazing distinctness and power of interest, and challenge for him the belief and cordial acceptance of all men. And yet, millions of sinners, whom he came to relieve and to bless, know him not and are utter strangers to his salvation. They have heard of Christ by the hearing of the ear, and have read about him often, but have never taken him into their hearts --feel no regard for him,-know nothing of the doctrine of a precious Saviour. To them the Bible reveals no divine Jesus ; for them there is no salvation. Heaven's Glory and earth's Redeemer, has no attractions for them. Alas! that this should be true of most Gospel sinners.
But there are a few souls on earth to whom Jesus is precious-inexpressibly precious : precious in his own matchless and exalted character : precious in His Word wbich reveals him : precious in his providence which bears constant testimony to his kindness and faithfulness ; precious in his example of all virtue and benevolence : precious in his extreme humiliation as “a man of sorrows,” and as the sufferer of Calvary : and precious in his exaltation and exceeding glory. They have seen Jesus in all his divine attractions have tasted of his love--have experienced his renewing grace-have enjoyed the most intimate communion with him and to them there is no being like Jesus. “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upou earth that I desire beside thee,” is the language of their daily experience. Christ and his cross are all their theme—their song in the house of their pilgrimage. “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious." Consider
I. To whom Christ is precious. “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” He is precious to none else. There are many characters found in this world, but Jesus Christ passes them all by, and reveals himself only to the humble and contrite soul--to that man who believes and trembles at his Word. He who has FAITH--faith in the Gospel,—the faith appropriate to him as a sinner, and to Christ as an all-suflicient Saviour, is sure to find Christ inexpressibly dear to him. He may be deficient in learning, in worldly advantages, in everything beside, but if he really believe with the heart unto righteousness,” Jesus Christ has been formed in him the hope of glory, and reveals himself to him in the efficacy and preciousness of his Grace.
" How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
And drives away his fear. .
It makes the wounded Spirit whole,
It calms the troubled breast; 'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest. God honors faith. The soul must look to Jesus—trust in him--cast her'all upon him, in order to experience the ineffable peace, and consolation, and reward of the Gospel.
II. Why Christ is so precious to the believer. He is seen by him in his glory as revealed by the Spirit of God,-experienced by him in the fulness of his salvation.
1. Christ is recognized by the believer as the medium of all earthly blessings. They are the fruit of His mediation, and flow to him through the channel of redeeming love and covenant grace.
2. As the source of spiritual blessings : pardon of sin— reconciliation with God-peace of mind--a new heart-a holy life--perseverance unto the end, and final victory in death, and glory beyond,-all come from Christ. He is our life, our hope, our strength, our wisdom, and redemption. We owe to him everything we enjoy and hope for. He has done for us what no other being has done or could do. All his promises are ours. He is present in every conflict to deliver, in every trial to strengthen, in every blessing to enrich, in every duty to quicken, in every chastisement to soothe and sanctify. There are, in what Christ is in himself, and in what he has done for the believer, and will yet do, infinite reasons why he should be precious to him, " the chief among ten thousand, and the one altogether lovely." The soul cries to him, and is delivered-looks to him, and is changed into the same image-feeds upon him, and grows up to life everlasting-trusts in him, and finds repose. 0, how precious is Jesus to the man who can truly say: "I know that my Redeemer is mine and I am his.” Compared with what he finds in Christ, all earthly good is insipid and vain. Christ alone is precious. And he is precious as a Saviour, to deliver and pardon--as a Friend, to counsel and sympathize--as a Teacher, to instruct and guide—as a Benefactor, to nourish and bless--as a Refuge, to afford safety and repose-as an almighty Deliverer, to bring the soul off conqueror over death and the grave.
III. When Christ is thus precious.
At all times—for He is always equally lovely and adorable, always equally nigh and rich in blessing, and the soul is always equally in need of him and satisfied with him. But more especially
1. In certain frames of mind, as, when the soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness; when it experiences anew the emptiness of all earthly good, and turns to God with longing desires ; after a season of spiritual darkness and conflict, when the light of God's countenance is again lifted up upon the soul, and the joy of his salvation restored ; and
when faith, overcoming its wonted weakness, and rising above the regions of doubt and uncertainty, attains to full assurance. In such states of mind the face of Jesus shines with ineffable sweetness and glory, in the believer's soul, and all is peace and joy. Like the disciples on the mount of transfiguration, he would evermore abide in this heavenly frame of mind, and gaze and gaze eternally on the unveiled and transcendent glories of his Redeemer.
2. In certain duties, as in secret prayer—in the worship of the sanctuary—in remembering Christ's dying love at his table-in visiting the sick, the poor, and the needy, to relieve their wants, and to make Jesus known to them and in sacrifices for the cause of God and the salvation of souls.
2. In certain seasons, as in times of danger, in the hour of bereavement, in the day of sickness and trial, and more than all, in the hour of death. Oh! how unspeakably precious has Christ been found to millions of believing souls, when all earthly comforts have fled, and the soul has felt the pressure of an infinite emergency! Language is inadequate to do justice to their experience at such times. Thier peace is like a river, their victory complete.
“ If such the sweetness of the streams, &c.
1. How much we need such a Saviour in this world of sin and sorrow : an Almighty hand to pluck us from ruin; an infinite righteousness to justify us with God; the Word and Spirit of the Holy One to enlighten and sanctify us ; a refuge from earth's sorrows and calamities, and the pledges and mercies of an “ everlasting covenant” to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless, with exceeding joy, before the Throne.
2. If this Jesus is not precious to you, my hearer, it is because you do not believe in him. The Scriptures reveal him to you ; the Holy Spirit would draw you to him. Open your eyes and behold the matchless One ! open your heart and feel the power of his love. Jesus is precious; do you not know it? Jesus is precious, and will you live disconsolate and die in misery ?
Finally-Behold the reward of faith. All this comes from believing. What a reward! What can equal it! The man to whom Jesus Christ is really precious, is favored above all men. His heart knows the secret of all happiness ; the secret of right living, and of a peaceful, happy death. What would you not give to know that secret? At what sacrifices would you not buy inward peace, triumph over death, salvation from hell? Only believe-believe in Jesus--the Jesus of the Scriptures--the Jesus of whom you have heard and read so often, and yet do not know; believe in Him, and you shall have peace, joy, victory, eternal life, glory unspeakable! The Lord give you faith.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went ererywhere preaching the. word."_Aors 8: 4.
Our text carries us back to days of persecution for the Word o sake. The empire which Satan had so long held was now rapidly waning before the power of the Cross, and he came down in great wrath because his time was short.” But his devices against the truth were vain. The cause of righteousness gained ground daily: it gained fresh strength from fresh opposition. Converts to Christ were multiplied even around the stake; and the agents in this work of intended extermination were made to see that all their apparent victories were really defeats. “The blood of martyrs proved the seed of the church.” One reason for this is intimated by the fact stated in the text, “They that were scattered abroad went everywhere," and wherever they went they acted out their religion -publishing with their lips, and enforcing by their lives, the gospel of the grace of God. From this statement, I deduce the doctrine of this discourse-That it is preeminently by aggressive movements that the Church is to prosper. By this means she is to maintain spiritual life in her own soul-cause religion to flourish at home, and extend its triumphs abroad.
1. The truth of this doctrine is suggested by the first impul
des of the religious principle, the spirit of love in every Christian's bosom.
False religionists, both among Pagans and nominal Christians, have, I know, taught that piety was a kind of lormant, contemplative spirit; that its power was to be manifested in patient endurance rather than holy action; in a voluntary withdrawment from the world, to avoid its contaminations, rather than in resolute efforts to make the world better. This was a leading feature in the ancient stoical philosopby. The same idea is incorporated into several of the religious systems prevelent in the East at the present day. It is this false notion, in nominally Christian churches, that has sent thousands of self-deceived, and, no doubt, some truly good men, into the seclusion of the cloister, to spend their days in penances and prayers, rather than in executing plans of benevolent effort. Now it is not the true spirit of religion, but the want of it that leads to such erroneous views of Christian duty. The unsophisticated promptings of the new-born soul are always to active effort for God. This is strikingly exhibited in young converts. It is illustrated with great beauty in the conduct of Christ's earliest disciples. So it must be; for true religion is the spirit of Christ. It looks with pain upon the amazing evils of sin, under whatever form they may appear. It sees the world lying in wickedness; and it is not satisfied with sighing over its miseries. Its language is, something must be done. It conceives plans, it demands efforts, for the world's conversion. Every real Christian that lives in the spirit of religion may consult his own consciousness on this subject. In his most favored hours and nearest approaches to God, he will find his impulses to religious effort strongest. The history of the apostles and primitive Cbristians confirm this view.
Take up the lives also of eminently holy men in later times
-Baxter, Brainard, Martyn, Payson. At the moment of meditating these thoughts, I open Payson's Memoirs lying before me, and one of the first sentences that meets my eye. in his private Diary, reads thus: “ Enjoyed this morning endeared communion with God-felt his love constraining me, and had such desire for the salvation of souls that I could not rest at homefelt that I must go out and stir up Christians to pray, and exhort sinners to repent.” What an impressive illustration of the truth of our doctrine; and, let me add, of the identity of true religion in all ages of the church. Payson's religion is Buen working out precisely the same results with that of those persecuted refugees referred to in our text. Such coincidences have a wonderful power to strengthen our faith in the reality of religion as a Divine principle, and they ought to be used as a searching test of the genuiness of our own professions of it.
2. The doctrine I have stated further appears from the fact